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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Boy George starts his clean sweep
Boy George reports for garbage duty

Singer Boy George has been sweeping streets in New York as part of a five-day community service sentence.

But the former Culture Club frontman, real name George O'Dowd, was moved into a fenced-off area after only 30 minutes because he was mobbed by the media.

He wore a fluorescent jacket, gloves and sunglasses. He had previously made light of the punishment by saying that he had "always been a scrubber".

The 45-year-old was found guilty of wasting police time earlier this year.

He was also threatened with jail if he failed to complete the court-imposed sentence.

O'Dowd was issued with a shovel, broom and plastic bags when he arrived at a depot in Manhattan's Lower East Side at 0700 local time (1100 GMT).

Around 30 minutes later he emerged from the building to board a street cleaning vehicle.

'Making it a nightmare'

O'Dowd swept a kerb surrounded by a phalanx of reporters and photographers.

At one point he shouted "cleaner coming through!" as he tried to get past the hordes of cameras.

However, he ranted at them and, at one point, swept a pile of leaves towards cameras.

"This is supposed to be community service," he said angrily.

"You're just making it a nightmare, which just means it's for the media and not for me."

Boy George reports for garbage duty
Photographers surrounded him as his street-sweeping shift began
Asked if he was annoyed that he was performing such menial tasks, he replied that he was not.

He said: "My mum was a cleaner, my dad was a builder, know what I mean?"

O'Dowd also told one reporter to "kiss my ass" during a spat.

Sanitation department deputy chief Albert Durrell then took the singer off the streets, saying he was concerned for everyone's safety.

He was to return to a depot, Mr Durrell explained, where he would be "hand-sweeping the area along the fence".

He added that there was always work to be done inside the building as well, such as mopping and clearing bins.


The community service order stems from an incident last October when O'Dowd called the police to his New York home.

A small amount of cocaine was found in the apartment and the singer was arrested.

The cocaine possession charge was dropped in March after O'Dowd pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of wasting police time.

In June, however, the singer was criticised by New York Judge Anthony Ferrara for failing to pay a $1,000 fine and perform his five days of community service.

The order has been criticised by the flamboyant performer's lawyer, who said the punishment would turn into "a media circus".

O'Dowd also said he felt it would be "more useful" to stage a charity concert rather than spending his time "prancing around in a park".

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